Monday, January 23, 2012

A Picture of our Newest Additions

Tiger painted this picture of his new brothers and sister.  He pulled the picture out of his dreams, so he says;  (He actually saw it in our referral) and he put it on paper to keep his brother, the wanderer,  “in his daytime eyes.”   Tiger is one of the 6 who cannot wait to hug the terrific trio tight in their arms.   Thanks Tiger for loving what is to come!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Melkam Timkat

I wish I were there, home in Ethiopia, for the feast of Timkat today.  I can almost hear the hum of the orthodox prayers and melodic chants and the heavy smell of incense.  My mind recalls the hoards of people who gather in the streets, in the churches, and at home to pray and honor the work of Jesus.  I love that Ethiopian holidays are based on actual Christian events.  I love that these events are not diluted by the pressures of culture to commercialize it or inflate it to a play day.  I ache for that culture that celebrates/worships the sacrifice of God's son through setting holidays. Timkat, an Ethiopian Orthodox celebration, marks the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.  The significance is not lost.  Just imagine:

Last night, on the eve of Timkat, clergy donned their ceremonial robes, bright, colorful, and opulent (not for the sake of being showy rather as an act of honoring the one they worship). 

Men and women clad themselves in shamma, traditional Ethiopian garb, and children chose colorful hats and crowns to wear as they joined in the festive processions.  Breathtaking.  

These throngs of people, wrapped in white, worshipfully flooded the street, abandoned sleep and food, and in reverent silence join the priests. The priests wrapped the Tabot, a symbol of the Ark of Covenant containing the 10 Commandments, in sumptuous clothing and paraded it from the church through the city streets and back. The hoard followed.  Praying.  Chanting.  Worshiping.  On they proceeded to a chosen lake, river, or pond.  The priests and Orthodox Ethiopians celebrated the Divine Liturgy near this body of water at early dawn after the long procession.  Finally, the priests blessed the water.  The crowds that gathered were sprinkled with the hallowed, holy water.  Then, as though in reckless abandon, some in the crowd chose to immerse themselves in the water as a symbol of renewing of their baptism.  I wish I were there.  

Melkam Timkat.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Family, Two Fountains

Yesterday, the kids and I explored a book on Martin Luther King, Jr. in an attempt understanding the social injustices of that time period.  We didn’t discuss slavery.  We didn’t assess blame.  We did discuss the isolation of a race in terms of education, social engagement, relationships, culture, and worship.  We did postulate on the long-term effects on a person’s spirit when they are so discarded by humanity. There were so many questions… questions I couldn’t answer, but only discuss.  Our older children kept inquiring how a government made of brilliant, elected officials, supposed to be the best representatives of the populous, and some even boasting to be (and undoubtedly were) God-fearing men could accept an idea that separate was in any way equal or that segregation represented modern, Christian thinkers.   The conversation itself and the kids ability to express their thoughts impressed me.

Tiger, obviously a bit young for this thought pattern, sat and listened.  He chimed in all of a sudden, “Two fountains?  We are one family, but we would need two fountains if we lived in Mr. King’s time?”  When I gently explained that before the integration we wouldn’t be allowed to be a trans-racial family, Tiger shook his head.  “No mama.  Not this family.  Not just us.  God’s family.  Remember, one God, one, one spirit, one cross, one body, one family.  How could we be one family of Jesus and need two fountains?” 

That sweet boy.  At five, he could see how social injustice undercuts our ability to represent the gospel that Jesus came to live.   His words and thought patterns were more juvenile.  He couldn’t wrap them in linguistic parades or rhetorical arguments, but he got it! 

For this family, MLK Day is less about the man, Martin Luther King, and more about fighting for social justices around the world but not simply for the sake of social justice.  It is for the sake of the gospel lived out in us testifying to the world of a love far greater than humanity will ever extend.  I’m praying God will continue to soften hearts in all areas so there is no need for two fountain in the body of Christ.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

MY Emo Man

Having children excites all of us, but women in particular seem to revel in the joy of new additions to the family.  Most of the blogs I follow are written by women, who publicly pour out their emotions.  I’m sure men feel these feelings… granted it’s sans the estrogen and progesterone emo surge of “I-am-going-to-rip-off-someone’s-limbs-in-order-to-hold-my-child moments, but surely they experience this?  Right???   And I hate that these strong men, who lead us so well, are so capable of the decorum we as moms seem to lack.  It must be why my heart swelled with pride and the “you, too, moment” when I read the preamble of my husband’s email to our caseworker. 

For every dad that has ever rejoiced in his children, longed for them, or had a melancholy cry over the child/children he anxiously awaits, enjoy!  To each mom, whose heart swells when her husband leads the way into adding to their family, swoons with ardor when he empathetically cries with your children, or stands frustrated at how well he keeps the “waiting” crazies at bay, take a moment to peer into the exposed heart of MY Emo Man.  Little did he know how much it would bless me. 

Dear “K”,

I am completely beside myself that this once far-fetched dream is now REALITY.  It is amazing that God would choose ME to be the dad of THESE three children from the other side of the world.  It is amazing that I would have this privilege. I just wanted to take a moment and tell you THANK YOU for all you have done (as a part of God’s plan) to bring my family together.  You are very good at what you do, and I THANK YOU for paying attention to the details of my adoption (because I LONG to bring them home)…

J. Knight

My newly found EMO MAN can’t know how much I cherish this simple exordium that exposed a part of his usually resolved manner/heart.  Cheers to you, J. Knight.  Cheers!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rules of Engagement

Last night, we attended this house party.  Not one with kegs like in days gone by, but one with a phenomenal vocalist playing her acoustic guitar and singing through the Bible… better known as a quaint and personal house concert.  So many of her sets spoke right to the place I’m standing, looking at the effects of sin, God’s crazy calling on His peoples, His faithfulness in the midst of pain and destruction, and the promises.  Promises. 

Something else happened, too.  One of my less favorite happenings, and one I forgot to expect with a new referral.  The infamous awkward and the HARD.  (In case you don’t know, this may be the hardest part of our wait, to know our kids, to see their faces, and to watch them grow in pictures without us, their family.)  We get it.  We’ve been in your place, honestly.  You are curious, and we’ve been curious.  You’re concerned, and we’ve been concerned.  You want to say something, and you just don’t know what.  Maybe Rules of Engagement will help.

No, this isn’t war.  It’s adoption.  But it’s not always nice.  It’s not pretty, and the beginnings aren’t happy, so we need some rules to make sure we reduce as much of the awkward and unintended hurt as possible.  Here we go.  Follow if you will:

 .      1.  Our children are not entering our family by choice or happy circumstances.  Please, even though it’s natural to wonder, don’t ask us why in public.   See, this is a bit like us saying to you, “Wow, you’re pregnant.  Tell us all the details of how it happened!”  We don’t want to embarrass you.  Right now, we are not going share the specifics of our children’s story.  (It feels unfair, right?  It’s not.  I promise.  I won’t ask you about your conception either.)  Remember, adoption has NEVER been a thing of beauty.  Its roots are painful.  Its lineage is redemption.  Adoption did NOT originate from beauty.  It came from pain and brokenness, and it is only a decent answer to the tragedies of this world.  Your question of why will never be answered with a white picket fence surrounding a sweet, safe haven called home with loving parents standing at the door sending these children off as though it’s their first day of kindergarten…

2.    2.   “Wow!  You must be a Saint.”  “What are you thinking?!?”  and “My, my, your hands are full, and you’re going to have more children?”  ARE NOT phrases I want shared in response to our referral news.  There is a pop culture sentiment that motherhood is a-bottom-of-the-bucket job, a passing hobby, and sheer drudgery.  It seems this culture also tells us children are risks, not gifts.  Four of our 7 children will forever battle the scars of abandonment that attend adoption, which means they will battle feeling loved, treasured, and precious.  We are working to instill in our children (all 7) that they “are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb and a reward.” (Psalms 127:3-5 ESV) I’m not a saint because I parent my children.  I am simply obedient and walking in the joy of the gifts God is giving us…. children…yes, all of them.  So when what you really mean is, “This is going to be a lot of work.  I know you are going to be tired and need help.”  Just say that. 

3.    3.   Please, don’t use our adoption as your opportunity for your racist platform or bigoted ideology.  Yes, half of our children will be black.  Yes, we know they are black, and we are not.  We actually love the differences that God created in different nations and races.  And you don’t need to point out that this will bring along its own set of difficulties.  We know.

4    4.   “You are adopting from Ethiopia? You know there are kids here, in your own country, who need homes.  Right?” continues to surface.  Please, refrain from snidely challenging God’s call on our lives.  There are specific reasons we chose to adopt from Ethiopia.  The primary and most poignant response is, “God called us to Ethiopia.”  Where has he called you?

5.     Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  That sounds funny after the previous statements; but, really, ask.  Just use discernment, and if you are in doubt, ask in private.  We desperately want to share our journey with you.  This is not a road to travel alone; we need you.  You are our support.  We NEED this village, and I’d love to hear from you, adoptive and non-adoptive friends.  Both perspectives are valid.   Share your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Yes. They Are All Mine.

I’m thinking of wrapping our van.  Yes, that econo-sized, ever-so-practical, 13 seater van in my driveway that I’ve yet to venture into.  I think I’ll wrap it in obnoxiously bright, techno font “Ware that family” or “Yes, they are all mine.”  I’ve even considered a brainier approach with a Punnett Square Diagram subtitled, “Recessive White Plus Dominant White Renders Brown and White. We are a scientific anomaly.”  Can’t you see it?  It might answer the ever-pressing questions that follow large, blended families.

Yes, a Punnett Square it is.  It should carry:  Mom, Dad, Hunter, Ann-E Girl, Tiger, Destructo-Mez, Defender, Little Mum, and Wanderer… since our file is ready to be submitted to court.  This evening at 5:00 we officially accepted our referral.  Welcome to Team Knight, terrific trio.  We are yours.